A look back at Ano Natsu de Matteru

April 8, 2012

I've been thinking over my view of AnoNatsu ever since it ended recently. In the end I can summarize my tangled thoughts this way: I enjoyed the show quite a bit but I don't know if you will, because I don't know how much sense parts of it will make if you haven't also seen Onegai Teacher (which I have).

To start with let's talk about the things that AnoNatsu did well and in particular, I want to talk about how it wasted no time on cliches. If you've watched much romance anime, you know that there's a whole stable of shopworn cliches that the genre uses to stall for time; these are things like the misheard conversation, the important words that are drowned out by some other noise so the target doesn't hear them, the person who can't actually confess their affection (sometimes starting out to make a confession and then suddenly changing the words they're saying), and so on.

AnoNatsu didn't have any time or patience for these cliches. When the show let this sort of situation come up at all (and caused me to start wincing), it immediately moved to demolish it again. Pretty much every single one of these potential cliches was mowed down by the end of the episode in which it first appeared. Indeed, mowing down the cliches was not infrequently used to aggressively move the show on. I found this endlessly refreshing and quite enjoyable.

(For various reasons, I've seen enough romance anime to have become thoroughly tired of these cliches.)

A story like this fundamentally revolves around the characters and I think AnoNatsu did a good job here. The characters generally aren't exceptional but they are well done. As people have said, Kaito and Ichika (the main couple) are a bit boring, but I think that was necessary; I don't think AnoNatsu had the time and space to both make Kaito and Ichika's romance really interesting and also cover the other characters. Instead AnoNatsu makes the leads fall for each other in a pretty straightforward way in order to leave room for other things.

(Although it's unfair I can't help comparing AnoNatsu with Toradora, which had a bit more than twice as many episodes and thus had much more time to let the story grow slowly.)

And finally, let's be honest; Remon pretty much steals the show any time she appears. She is not so much a character as an archetype, the friendly Trickster; you never know what she's going to do next, but it's probably going to be both interesting and knowing.

Which brings us to my major concerns about the show, which are Remon and the ending. I didn't mind the ending, but in many ways it's very abrupt and very Remon. And however much I like her, Remon herself is an extremely convenient if low-key deus ex machina, one that's ultimately responsible for a significant amount of the plot and the foreshadowing and layering in the show. Which is where we get into my overall concern.

AnoNatsu is clearly a spiritual sequel to Onegai Teacher; there are plenty of clear similarities and a certain amount of nodding references. It's probably not a literal sequel (I don't think you can quite reconcile the timelines and the worlds of the two shows) but a lot of things make much more sense if you assume that something like Onegai Teacher happened in the past of AnoNatsu. In particular, it really helps to assume that Remon is also more or less Ichigo Morino from OT, perpetually frozen at her current apparent age.

You can make things in AnoNatsu make sense without this link if you read a certain amount of things between the lines (and I have seen commentary from people who have not seen OT and did enjoy AnoNatsu). But I think that having seen OT and seeing the link at least makes AnoNatsu much easier to enjoy, and I don't have any idea myself how someone without that background would find AnoNatsu.

Liked: yes, clearly, since I eagerly watched all of it despite not normally watching romance anime. However, it's no Toradora; ultimately it will probably be forgettable but fondly remembered.

Rewatch: no. It's not that fascinating.

Written on 08 April 2012.
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Last modified: Sun Apr 8 22:21:08 2012
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